When you’re hired by an airline as a pilot, you will need to do a specialisation course for the type of aircraft you are going to fly. It will start with theory about the airplane, about all the systems and the Standard Operational Procedures that you have to follow. How to set up the cockpit for a flight, how to do the system tests and how to work with the FMC (the Flight Management Computer, the little computer where you insert the desired route and all performance settings of your take off and landing).
After the theory exam, you will go into a simulator. This is usually initially a static simulator, one that doesn’t move, where you practice all the procedures. After that, you will go into the full-motion simulator, which is really similar to the real aircraft and you actually learn to fly! To take off, to land, to fly normal manoeuvres and unusual attitude recovery, to cope with system malfunctions and with engine failures and fires.
Every simulator session you are expected to improve, so in the time between the sessions you should really continue to study, to read the feedback of the previous simulator session and to sit down with your simulator partner to see how you can improve and learn from your previous mistakes.
After you pass your skill test, the best flight of your life is coming up: The Base Training: Six touch & go’s with a big airliner jet! It is part of the requirement of the Type Rating. You take off with an instructor for the very first time in the jet aircraft. You will make visual traffic patterns, depending on other incoming traffic and how busy the airport is. You make six landings, the instructor will help you if needed. Even though the simulator can be very realistic, landing for the first time in real life is still very different. After the touch down, still rolling on the runway, the instructor will take control, reduce the flaps, set take off power and hand over the controls to you again. You accelerate the airplane and at the rotation speed, you gently pull the control wheel to lift the nose up to take off again! It’s really a great experience!
After the base training, the type rating will be added to your licence and that may take some time. In the mean time, you will do a Operator Conversion Course, where all information is given about the company itself, about certain procedures and about the Operations Manual. It usually includes also a CRM course and people from different departments will explain how things work in the company.
Type Ratings can be really intensive, especially if the program is time limited. A type rating usually takes between 6 to 8 weeks. When you receive the licence with your type rating, you can start flying!
You will start your line training. This starts with about 25 hours of radio time, on the jump seat, to observe the two pilots do their job. This really helps to understand and see in real life how the airline operation works.
Then, you will really start flying, taking the right seat, with a line training captain on the left seat and an experienced first officer on the jump seat as safety pilot. The safety pilot is there to make sure everything is done correctly and in case something goes wrong, or if a certain airport requires experienced pilots, he/she will take your seat. After about 75 hours of line training, depending on your performance, you will finish the familiarisation part and are no longer required to have a safety pilot on the jump seat.
From that moment, you are part of the minimum crew and function as a first officer. However, you are still in line training with a line training captain next to you. When you have done a total of 125 hours, or 40 sectors, you will be scheduled for your line check. An examiner will go on the jump seat and examine your skills, knowledge of the airplane and the procedures. When you pass your line check, you are fully qualified to fly on the line and enjoy your career as a pilot!
This was the last post of the series How to become a Pilot! I hope this has been informative. Soon I will continue writing about my experiences as an airline pilot! Thank you so much for reading and visiting my page! ❤